By Jordan Gerrans
NSW greyhound trainer Jason Mackay has no concerns around his two Brisbane Cup hopefuls going into Thursday’s heats without a look at the track, declaring they are perfect for the Albion Park circuit.
A glut of interstate kennels have opted to trial their dogs around Albion Park before, and during, the TAB Queensland Greyhound Winter Racing Carnival to familiarise them with the conditions they will face.
Having travelled his team north of the border countless times across his career, Mackay is not worrying about getting a look at the track with kennel mates Impress Shades and Fantastic Raven ahead of their heats for this year's $525,000 Group 1 Brisbane Cup.
Fantastic Raven arguably has a more outstanding resume than her kennel mate, but Mackay is hopeful they both will be competitive and land in next week’s decider.
A total of six quality-stacked heats will be run on Thursday in a bid to score a spot in the Final seven days later.
The Mackay kennel mates have shared in 42 victories across their careers and their experienced trainer thinks that is enough knowledge to tackle Brisbane’s premier track first-up.
And, as they have collectively started in more than 100 races, he thinks the new environment should fire them up for the assignment.
Impress Shades has faced the starter at 12 different tracks while Fantastic Raven has visited 17 across her career, with their trainer noting they enjoy travelling and racing around Australia.
“They are seasoned dogs, they have been there and done that,” Mackay said.
“I think it more excites them these days going to a track first-up.
“I have no qualms about no trials, I know what they can do first-up.
“I have taken them to a fair few tracks first-up and they have gone very good and I cannot see a reason why it would not happen up there this week.
“Over the years, I have trialled dogs at Albion Park before racing them there, multiple times, but we will go this way with these ones.”
Mackay believes a dog with early speed, as well as being able to be strong late, are the keys to winning big races at Albion Park, which he thinks he has in his two Cup chances.
“I think you need a certain kind of dog to race at Albion Park,” Mackay said.
“That is what fits these two dogs quite well, they are nice and strong.”
The Richmond Vale-based kennel of Mackay has not been seen north of the border in recent winter carnivals, last contesting a feature race when Zipping Bailey ran fourth in the 2019 Brisbane Cup.
Following an eye-catching second in the recent Group 2 Richmond Oaks, Mackay says Fantastic Raven is well placed from box seven in the second heat.
The daughter of Fernando Bale finished just under three lengths behind Good Odds Cash in the 2022 Richmond Oaks, who won in track record time.